Announcements
PUBLISHED 10 December 2008

Tax bill introduced

A taxation bill introduced last night gives effect to changes announced in the 2008 general election campaign:

  • A three-year programme of changes to personal income tax rates and thresholds from 1 April 2009
  • Introduction of an independent earner tax credit of $10 a week from 1 April 2009, increasing to $15 a week from 1 April 2010
  • Repeal of the R&D tax credit from the 2009-10 income year
  • Changes to KiwiSaver from 1 April 2009, including a reduced employee contribution rate of 2%, capping of compulsory employer contributions at 2%, and discontinuing the employer tax credit and the fee subsidy.

The bill received its first reading under urgency. For more information on the proposed measures see the Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill and the media statements (with links to Beehive for related material).


Hon Bill English
Minister of Finance

MEDIA STATEMENTS

Tax changes boost economy, encourage prosperity
Changes make KiwiSaver more affordable for all


Tax changes boost economy, encourage prosperity

Tax changes introduced to parliament today are crucial to boosting New Zealand's economy as financial uncertainty continues worldwide, and lifting New Zealand's long term growth rates Finance Minister Bill English said today.

The Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill includes personal income tax cuts and threshold changes, a new independent earner tax credit for low and middle income earners, changes to make KiwiSaver more affordable, and the repeal of the research and development tax credit.

"In the short term tax cuts will put money in New Zealanders' pockets just when it is needed to keep the economy going," Mr English said.

"In the longer term this package will encourage people to invest in their own skills to earn more money, because they'll have to pay less of it back in tax.

"We see this move as a step towards our goal to deliver a personal tax system that rewards effort and provides better incentives to get ahead.

"People know best what to do with their own money. They can choose to spend their tax cuts, pay off the mortgage, or invest the money for the future."

An element of the Tax Bill is the repeal of the research and development tax credit from the 2009-10 income year.

"We firmly believe in the importance of research and development to keep New Zealand internationally competitive, but the tax credits aren't the most effective way to ensure that," Mr English said.

"We will work with business to better target government expenditure on innovation."

Mr English stressed that the tax package was affordable. National's tax cuts do not add to government debt. The tax cuts are funded by the savings from changes to KiwiSaver, discontinuing the research and development tax credit, and replacing the previous government's proposed tax cuts.

The Bill is being progressed under urgency, and is expected to pass through the House tomorrow.

Information sheets on the changes to tax, KiwiSaver and the research and development tax credit are available from the Beehive website.

Media contact: Bryan McDaniel, 021 228 0747


Changes make KiwiSaver more affordable for all

KiwiSaver changes introduced to parliament today will make the scheme more affordable for members, employers and taxpayers, especially in the current economic climate Finance Minister Bill English said today.

The KiwiSaver changes are included in the Taxation (Urgent Measures and Annual Rates) Bill.

"The Bill includes changes to National's pre-election policy, restoring the member tax credit to a dollar-for-dollar subsidy up to $1040 for low and middle income earners. The government has decided to abolish the member fee subsidy of $40 per year to help manage the cost of this decision," Mr English said.

The main changes to KiwiSaver are:

  • The minimum member contribution rate will reduce from 4% to 2%, and 2% will be the default contribution rate for new employee members from 1 April 2009.
  • The member fee subsidy will be discontinued from 1 April 2009.
  • Compulsory employer contributions will be capped at 2% from 1 April 2009.
  • The employer tax credit will be discontinued from 1 April 2009.
  • The employer superannuation contribution tax exemption will be capped at the compulsory employer contribution of 2% from 1 April 2009. (That is equivalent to 2% of the employee's gross salary or wages.)
  • The KiwiSaver Act will be amended to make it clear that upon joining KiwiSaver, no employee can have their gross pay reduced as a result of employer contributions. This will ensure that when employees join KiwiSaver, the compulsory contributions from their employer are a genuine addition to their existing pay. The changes will also provide employers and employees with the ability to negotiate their own arrangements in good faith. The Employer Relations Act amendment relating to KiwiSaver will then be obsolete, and will be repealed from the date of assent of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill.
  • The KiwiSaver Act will also be amended to provide a limited exemption from compliance with securities and other related legislation for a limited period so that providers have time to update prospectuses and investment statements, for example.

"We have retained the main features that have made KiwiSaver a popular means of saving for a better standard of living in retirement – the member tax credit of up to $20 a week, the $1000 kick-start, mortgage diversion, deposit subsidy and the first-home withdrawal provisions. And we have ensured that it is a more affordable scheme for low income earners and a more sustainable scheme for New Zealand," Mr English said.

Moving from National's pre-election policy of the member tax credit matching the minimum member contribution rate of 2%, to matching dollar-for-dollar up to $1040, would have come at a cost of $791 million over five years. This would have meant the final tax and KiwiSaver package would have gone from saving $566 million to costing $225 million over five years.

To help manage this cost and to ensure the package is fiscally neutral, the government has decided to remove the member fee subsidy and reduce costs by $203 million. This brings the total net cost of the package over five years to $22 million.

An information sheet on the changes to KiwiSaver is available from the Beehive website.

Media contact: Bryan McDaniel, 021 228 0747